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Thu Apr 24 01:38:32 SAST 2014

Gabon will be stiff test for Bafana

MARC STRYDOM | 14 June, 2012 06:370 Comments
Steven Pienaar of South Africa fouled during the FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Botswana and South Africa from University of Botswana Stadium on June 09, 2012 in Gaborone, Botswana
Image by: Duif Du Toit / Gallo Images

GABON, ranked 49, will provide Bafana Bafana with one of their toughest tests this year in tomorrow night's friendly international at Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit.

The South Africans need a win to avert equalling their longest winless streak of nine matches.

But in the Panthers they will find a team confident from their impressive run to the quarterfinals of the Africa Cup of Nations as co-hosts in January.

Bafana are ranked 68th.

Gabon come into the game on the back of a good start to their World Cup qualifying campaign, with a 1-0 home win against Burkina Faso and goalless away draw against Niger over the past two weekends.

Bafana began their campaign with 1-1 draws at home to Ethiopia (ranked 130th) and away against 116th-ranked Botswana.

Gabon's players are almost all based in Europe . These include three stars of the 2012 Nations Cup co-hosts, who won all three of their group matches (2-0 against Niger, 3-2 against Morocco and 1-0 against Tunisia) before losing 5-4 on penalties in the quarter s against Mali.

French-based forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was among the top scorers of the Afcon, with three goals. Spanish-based Levy Madinda, who plays for Celta Vigo B, featured strongly in all the Gabon games.

Bruno Zita Mbanangoye, of Belarusian club Dinamo Minsk, scored the spectacular free kick with the last kick of the game in the victory that knocked Morocco out of the tournament.

"It is going to be one of those games where we will have to fight to get on top," stand-in Bafana captain Morgan Gould said.

Steven Pienaar has been released from the squad, along with Bongani Khumalo, Oupa Manyisa, Thanduyise Khuboni and Katlego Mphela.

Gould, who signed for Kaizer Chiefs just before South Africa's poor start to the qualifiers for Brazil 2014, said poor finishing was the main reason for South Africa's inability to win matches, which cost coach Pitso Mosimane his job last week.

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